Market Segmentation in the K-League: An Analysis of Spectators of the Korean Professional Soccer League

Article excerpt


This study involved analysis of the consumption behaviours of spectators in the K-League (South Korea). Its dual purpose was to cluster spectators into homogeneous groups on the basis of attitudes towards game attendance, and to define the segments obtained on the basis of the demographic and lifestyle profiles of the spectators. Multiple steps were taken to analyse the data from a survey of 967 spectators. This revealed four distinct groups--promotion-concerned, place-concerned, price-concerned and indifferent.







Executive summary

The Korean K-League commenced operations nearly a quarter of a century ago. Since its inception in 1983, this professional soccer league has been a financial failure for all but two (1983 and 1984) of its regular seasons. Although the 13 teams in the league have not been financially solvent, they have provided added value to their parent companies through their ability to provide those companies with positive communication and effective advertising. Because of this unique situation, the practitioners employed by the K-League have not realised the need for a systematic marketing plan. The failure to recognise the benefits of such a critical plan has limited the growth and financial viability of the sports entities within the league.

In an attempt to introduce the concept of market analysis to the Korean professional soccer industry, this study was designed to provide marketing information and analysis concerning spectators at K-League games. The study, which included a survey of spectators (N=967) who attended three league home games across three different major cities in Korea, involved two investigative aspects. The first part of the study included the clustering of spectators into homogeneous groups that had similar characteristics on the basis of attitudes towards game attendance. The second part of the analysis involved defining the segments obtained on the basis of the demographic and lifestyle profiles of the spectators.

The data analysis involved three steps. First, an exploratory factor analysis was used to determine the 19 attendance items that explained why spectators attend a game. Second, a cluster analysis was utilised to segment spectators based on the identified factor groupings. Third, discriminant and cross-tabulation analyses were conducted to determine any significant segment descriptor among the identified factors and the demographic and lifestyle variables.

The results of a factor analysis produced a solution of four factors with eigenvalues greater than unity: a) place, b) product, c) price and d) promotion. A four-cluster solution was identified through the two types of cluster analyses. Then, the result of a multiple discriminant analysis showed that the three functions accounted for 46.9%, 29.0%, and 24.1% of the variance in the clusters. Lastly, the demographic and lifestyle profiles for each cluster were examined using cross-tabulation. The chi-square analysis revealed that four out of the five demographic variables and all five lifestyle variables showed statistically significant differences relating to the four clusters.

Four distinct segments were identified and named as a result of the multiple analytical steps. These four segments include the promotion-concerned group, place-concerned group, price-concerned group and the indifferent group. By implementing the results of this study, sports marketing practitioners in the K-League can use these segments to understand the needs and wants of their target markets, and to meet the satisfaction demands of their various stakeholders more effectively.


The commencement of professional soccer in Korea occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago. In 1983, two professional teams (Hallelujah and Yukong) and three amateur teams (POSCO, Daewoo and Kookmin Bank) united to form the basis of what is now referred to as the K-League. …


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